October 1, 2019

SUNY Empire State College Receives $350,000 Grant from Lumina Foundation

Lumina’s All Learning Counts Initiative Applies More Learning Toward Degrees and Other Credentials

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York – Oct. 01, 2019) SUNY Empire State College has been awarded a $350,000 grant from Lumina Foundation to build new pathways to degrees and other credentials for adults, especially for people of color and Native learners.

Lumina’s All Learning Counts grant enables SUNY Empire to develop and implement new, innovative approaches to competency-based evaluation of formal and informal training for cohorts of employees.

Through the assessment of employee competencies, and evaluation of their training, SUNY Empire will award micro- and other credentials, which form the core of an associate or bachelor’s degree aligned with the employees’ career pathways.

Lumina and SUNY Empire enjoy a long and successful series of collaborations, including Lumina’s “Today’s Student,” SUNY Empire’s Global Learning Qualifications Framework, and Lumina’s Connecting Credentials Initiative.

At both the individual and organizational levels, awarding college credit for college-level learning acquired outside of formal higher education – through work, military, and other life experiences – has been a core component of SUNY Empire’s mission since its founding nearly 50 years ago.

“Thanks to the generous support of Lumina Foundation’s All Learning Counts program, SUNY Empire can make even greater strides in reducing the cost and time it takes to complete a college degree,” said Jim Malatras, president of SUNY Empire. “Through the credentialing process, both employers and employees will see a clear path to career advancement and degree completion. Lumina and SUNY Empire are committed to expanding access to higher education that meets students’ needs beyond the limits of traditional campus-based learning. We are grateful for Lumina’s support over the years and look forward to an even brighter future.”

“Gone are the days when the typical college student is 18, straight out of high school, and headed for a residential campus followed by a lifelong career in a single field or industry,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO, who is the recipient of an honorary degree from SUNY Empire. “Today’s students are older, diverse, working, and raising families. Many have been frustrated when trying to navigate our outdated systems of higher learning. Students should have more of their knowledge and skills acquired outside of classrooms recognized, and I applaud SUNY Empire State College's efforts to do so.”

“Through All Learning Counts, we are recognizing exemplars who want to ensure many more Americans will have skills they need to thrive by earning college degrees, certificates, and industry certifications,” said Haley Glover, the Lumina strategy director who will provide leadership for the grant program. “We need to think in new ways about the recognition of learning after high school. We must see that all college-level learning, regardless of how and where it is gained, can be applied toward meaningful post-high school credentials.”

“Lumina and SUNY Empire have a long history of working together to expand access to a high-quality college education,” said Meg Benke, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at SUNY Empire. “The All Learning Counts program will take those efforts even further allowing the college to work more closely with industry partners to evaluate workplace learning based on the competencies that employees have developed and those that they need to develop further.  We look forward to these partnerships, and we look forward to further collaborations with Lumina.”

SUNY Empire received one of nine grants awarded nationwide from a pool of 78 applicants. Other recipients include: District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund, Mi Casa Resource Center, Minnesota State, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Nicolet College, the University of Maine System, the University of Wisconsin System, and Virginia Community College System.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates more than 17,000 students in person, online, and through a blend of both, at more than 30 locations in New York and at eight international sites worldwide. Together with one of SUNY Empire’s more than 1,300 faculty mentors, each student designs their own individualized pathway to a college degree that accommodates their schedule and awards credit for prior college-level learning. SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state. Today, more than 87,000 SUNY Empire alumni are entrepreneurs, veterans, and active members of the military, professional athletes, teachers, medical professionals, and leaders in their field, as well as in their communities. To learn more, visit www.esc.edu and follow the college on social media @SUNYEmpire.

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The foundation envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Lumina’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.